The basis of all Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture therapy is the Taoist philosophy and life science that originated and flourished in China many thousands of years ago. The goal of the ancient Taoists in developing their philosophy, art and life sciences was to find a way to reintegrate the individual with the inherent balance of nature and the universe that they perceived lay underneath the tumultuous and rapidly changing political and societal structures of their time. These were Chinese Medicine’s roots.
In our modern day and age there has been an increasing interest in acupuncture and Chinese Medicine due to its effectiveness, low cost and elegant simplicity. As modern interest in acupuncture and TCM surges there seems to be a a chasm developing between the purists who would seek to preserve TCM in its original form, replete with education based on the original classics, translated from ancient Chinese, and those who would remove acupuncture therapy completely from its ancient Taoist roots, transforming it instead into a completely scientifically researchable variable.
In my personal opinion, the beauty of Chinese Medicine is that practiced at its highest level, it is both an art and a science. To me the ideal practitioner of TCM would be well versed in the latest scientific research validating the effectiveness of acupuncture and the physiological mechanisms by which it is explained, and at the same time, be thoroughly familiar with the ancient tradition and philosophical paradigm from which these therapies originally sprang. This is the true spirit of Taoism: the ability to adapt to the reality of the moment without becoming overly bogged down by either the limitations of the intellect or by ancient, in some cases irrelevant, traditions.
To the ancient and modern Taoist alike, the universe that we find ourselves living in is not a universe of absolutes and reality is never perceived as entirely black or white. If you look at the classic yin/yang symbol, the most well know symbol of Taoism, it is clear that at its apex, yin turns into yang and yang turns into yin. Thus when practiced in the true spirit of Taoism, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine in its highest form is both an art and a science. It is an effective modality that is wielded from, in equal parts, the practitioner’s compassionate heart and well developed intellect and knowledge base.
I would like to also take a moment to discuss the false idea held by some practitioners of Christianity, that acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is somehow unchristian because of its Taoist roots. If looked into with any discernment it would be seen that this is clearly not the case. The Taoists worship God as reverently as Christians do; the only difference being one of semantics. Taoists call God the Tao, which literally translated into English, means “The Way”. Jesus himself said in John 14:6, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life,” a clear declaration of Jesus’s own personal connection and identification with his higher power. In summary, I personally do not believe that God is really partial to one particular religion over another, or that God would reject one’s sincere devotion to Absolute Reality because of any language or semantic differences. Neither, I think, should any of God’s children limit or bias themselves unduly or unnecessarily.
Terry M. Chen, Licensed Acupuncturist
Open Sky Acupuncture, Acupuncture Eugene Oregon